A systematic scoping review on contextual factors associated with communicative participation among children with developmental language disorder

Ingrid Singer, Ellen de Wit, Jan Willem Gorter, Margreet Luinge, Ellen Gerrits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Variations in communicative participation of children with developmental language disorder (DLD) cannot be wholly explained by their language difficulties alone and may be influenced by contextual factors. Contextual factors may support or hinder communicative participation in children, which makes their identification clinically relevant.

To investigate which contextual (environmental and personal) factors in early childhood are protective, risk or neutral factors for communicative participation among school-aged children with DLD, and to identify possible gaps in knowledge about this subject.

Methods & Procedures
A scoping review was conducted based on a systematic search of studies published from January 2007 to March 2022 in Pubmed, Embase (without MEDLINE), CINAHL and PsycINFO. In total, 8802 studies were reviewed using predefined eligibility criteria, of which 32 studies were included for data extraction and critically appraised using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (2021) tools.

Main Contribution
The methodological quality of included studies was adequate to strong. Personal protective factors identified are being a preschool girl, reaching school age and being prosocial, while personal risk factors are becoming a teenager or adolescent, having low socio-cognitive skills and experiencing comorbid mobility impairment or behavioural problems. Gender after the preschool years and non-verbal abilities were not found to be of influence, and the role of socio-emotional skills is inconclusive. Receiving therapy is an environmental protective factor, while the association between socio-economical family characteristics with communicative participation is inconclusive.

Conclusions & Implications
Limited research has been conducted on which risk and protective factors present in early childhood are associated with later communicative participation of children with DLD. The influence of co-occurring health conditions, social background variables, individual psychological assets, interpersonal relationships and attitudes of other people represent knowledge gaps. In addition, knowledge about the comparative effectiveness of different types of interventions and service delivery models, and the impact of administrative control, organizational mechanisms and standards established by governments on children's communicative participation is lacking. More longitudinal research is needed focusing on the identification of relevant personal and environmental factors and the interactions between them in relation to communicative participation outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages34
JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2022


  • communicative participation
  • developmental language disorders
  • contextual factors


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